The Fastest Place on Earth

The Bonneville Salt Flats in Western Utah are where drivers and engineers attempt to break the land speed record -- an activity that has transformed this otherwise unused space into one of the more important sites of modern human history.

This short essay, slideshow and video explore this historic area and how it has filled a small niche in the world of land use.

"The salt flats of Bonneville were essentially reinvented, from an inhospitable landscape much feared as early as the 1850s by westbound settlers crossing the American continent to California, into a racing site that was mapped and understood through ever-increasing measures of speed. I would argue that in this sense racing became a sort of idealization of the site and its resources, and that consequently the activities of racing and the events of record setting are in fact entirely connected to a greater sense of the landscape in both space and time. It was in recognizing the potential of the Bonneville flats as a natural surface to race on that a mutually beneficial relationship among technology and ambition and the landscape was forged - and with it a deep respect for the land. Through decades of racing on this site an exceptional record of human activity has been constructed."

Full Story: Land, Speed and Bonneville

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